shortest nba players of all time

Redefining Greatness: 10 Shortest NBA Players of All Time

Height and physical prowess usually define greatness in professional basketball. However, true greatness knows no bounds. These are the 10 shortest NBA players of all time whose dynamism, skill, and sheer determination reshaped the narrative of success on the court.

Join us as we unravel the remarkable journey of these vertically challenged but endlessly talented athletes who left an indelible mark in the history of the NBA.

10 Shortest NBA Players of All Time

1. Tyrone Curtis ‘Muggsy’ Bogues

Muggsy’ Bogues

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Standing at only 5 feet 3 inches, Muggsy carved out a remarkable career in the NBA. He defied expectations and redefined the role of short players in professional basketball. His tenure with the Charlotte Hornets made him become the fans’ favorite and a symbol of resilience.

He displayed exceptional court vision, defensive tenacity, and ball-handling skills throughout his career despite his height disadvantage. No wonder, he’s among the top 20 in NBA history for his ability to create scoring opportunities for teammates and total assists. His durability and adaptability made him continue active on the court until he clocked 36 years.

Mugssy paved the way for short players in the NBA. He proved that height isn’t the only determinant of success in the game. He inspired many other short players to pursue their basketball dreams.

2. Earl Boykins

Earl Boykins

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Second on our list, the 5 feet 5 inches tall player defied the odds and left a mark during his days in the NBA. Apart from his exceptional speed, and basketball IQ, he made a name for his determination. His NBA debut was in the 1998-1999 season with the New Jersey Nets before playing for various other teams.

Regardless of his small stature, Boykins consistently contributed as a valuable player off the bench and became a fan favorite while playing with the Denver Nuggets. He became the second shortest NBA player to dunk during a game showcasing speed and surprising athleticism.

His quickness allowed him to maneuver through defenses, distribute the ball effectively, and create scoring opportunities. Boykins fearlessly attacked the basket finishing plays with layups and floaters over many taller players. He served as a mentor to young players earning respect for his work ethic and professionalism.

3. Mel Hirsch

At 5 feet 6 inches, Hirsch was the shortest player in the NBA for about half a decade. His basketball journey started when the NBA was still in its infancy. He played with the iconic Boston Celtics. Despite his remarkable skills showcased while in college, his professional career only kicked off after his service in World War II.

Before his stint in the NBA, Hirsch honed his talent on the squadron’s basketball team during his military service. Today, he ranks as the third shortest player in the NBA of all time. He left a legacy as a trailblazer who defied height stereotypes in professional basketball.

4. Anthony Jerome ‘Spud’ Webb

Spud’ Webb

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Standing at 5 feet 7 inches, Spud’s impact on the game is far greater than his height. He joined the NBA undrafted in 1985 and quickly gained attention for his speed and explosive athleticism. Spud spent much of his career with the Atlanta Hawks.

One of his most memorable moments was winning a slam dunk contest 1986. Later on, he earned an NBA All-Star Game Appearance where he showcased his talent on a grand stage. Despite his height, Spud’s ability to leap and creativity allowed him to dunk the ball with flair.

He demonstrated leadership abilities on the court, earning him respect from teammates and opponents. Unmatched speed and agility enabled him to navigate through defenses to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates until he retired in 1998.

5. Monte Towe

Despite not having an extensive NBA career, Towe’s basketball journey is noteworthy. Standing at 5 feet 7 inches, he gained prominence as the starting point guard for North Carolina State University, in the historical NCAA championship win in 1974.

He played briefly in the NBA with appearances for the Denver Nuggets in the 1976-77 season and the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1977-78 season before moving to coaching. His on-court appearance as a player and as a coach contributed to the success of the team he played for and coached.

Towe’s versatility on the court allowed him to score when he needed to. However, he primarily focused on setting up plays and involving his teammates. His transition to coaching solidified his impact leaving an enduring legacy at collegiate and professional level.

6. Wataru “Wat” Misakah

Apart from being on our list of the shortest players in the NBA, Wat also broke racial barriers in professional sports. He was the first person of color in the Basketball Association of America which later became the NBA and New York Knicks’ number one draft pick in 1947. At 5 feet 7 inches, his defense and quickness set him apart from bigger players.

His nickname on the court was “speed demon.” He won at every level up to the end of his professional career. Misaka was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Crimson Club Hall of Fame in 2011. He also inspired other basketball players of Asian descent such as Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming.

7. Keith “Mister” Jennings

Beginning his career as a free agent, Jennings became a standard of comparison for future greats in basketball. Standing at 5 feet 7 inches, He gained prominence at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) becoming an all-time leading scorer. Jennings joined the NBA undrafted to play for the Golden State Warriors in the 1992- 1993 season.

His professional career took him overseas playing for various leagues in Europe, including his last game as a point guard with Strasburg in France on May 27, 2004. Despite his size, Jennings has a potent scoring touch. He would shoot mid-range and beyond the arc making him a great threat to his opponents.

One of his most outstanding feats on the court includes racking up 23 points and 10 assigns in 10 minutes while playing with the Warriors.

8. Greg Grant

At 5 feet 7 inches, Grant’s quickness, agility, and playmaking ability allowed him to make a significant impact in the NBA. In 1986, he played college basketball at Trenton State College, now The College of New Jersey, showcasing exceptional skills as a dynamic point guard. Here he earned himself the title of the “Greatest Athlete in Trenton State College history.”

He joined the NBA undrafted and played for the Phoenix Suns in the 1989-1990 season. Grant went on to play for other teams including the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 96ers, Denver Nuggets, and Charlotte Hornets.

Grant founded the “GGrant 94ft. Academic Sports Academy Inc.”, a nonprofit, and the “Greg Grant 3-point mentoring program” to offer academic and athletic support to children in Trenton. In 2017, the Mercer County Office of the Prosecutor awarded him the “African American Achievement Award” and the “Community Service Man of the Year Award.”

9. Charlie Criss

Charlie Criss

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By the time he joined the NBA in 1977 to play with the Atlanta Hawks, he was the shortest player at 5 feet 8 inches. He was undrafted in 1970 from New Mexico State and played 8 seasons in the league.

Criss gained recognition as the 6th man providing a spark off the bench with his exceptional scoring, playmaking, and defensive abilities. Despite his height, his quick release and agility allowed him to score from various positions.

His highest-scored points were 34 in the NBA regular league and playoffs while playing with the Clippers. He recorded 8 assists during the 118-101 defeat over the San Antonio Spurs. Upon his retirement from basketball, he took on other roles including basketball summer camp coordinator, golf instructor, and TV color commentator.

10. Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

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For his height, Thomas had to put up a strong fight to join the NBA. After his selection by the Sacramento Kings as the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft out of Washington, he quickly established himself as a dynamic scorer.

He went on to play 11 seasons in the association with 550 regular season games with teams including Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Dallas Mavericks. He is among the only 22 players to have appeared in a regular season for at least 10 different teams in NBA history.

2016-17 was his best year where he averaged a career-high of 28.9 in each game with 5.9 assists. His other achievements include being a 12x NBA All-Star, 12x NBA All-Star, and a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.

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